What can I do about my seasonal allergies?
Q. I have seasonal allergies; what do I need to avoid or do?
A seasonal allergy is an allergic reaction to a trigger that is typically only present for part of the year, such as spring or fall. This type of allergy refers to a pollen allergy, such as trees, weeds, and grasses. Perennial allergies, on the other hand, are usually present year-round, and include allergens such as pet dander and house dust mites.
Seasonal allergies are also often referred to as hay fever. Symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, itching of the nose and post-nasal drip. Not all people experience all of the symptoms of hay fever, and some people only have one symptom. It may be difficult to tell the difference between seasonal allergies and the common cold.
Pollens are tiny egg-shaped powdery grains released from flowering plants, which are carried by the wind or insects. When pollen is present in the air, it can land in a person’s eyes, nose, lungs and skin to set up an allergic reaction.
Spring allergies are a result of pollen from trees, which can start pollinating anytime from January to April, depending on the climate and geographical location.
Grass pollen is typically the main cause of the late spring and early summer allergies. Contact with grass can result in itching and hives in people who are allergic to grass pollen.
The main cause of fall allergies is weed pollen in late summer and early fall. These weeds include ragweed, sagebrush, pigweed, tumbleweed and cocklebur.
Pollen can travel long distances and the levels in the air can vary from day to day. Levels of pollen tend to be the highest from early morning to mid-morning, from 5 am to 10 am.
How to Avoid Pollen Exposure:
- Keep windows closed
- Keep your car windows closed when traveling
- Stay indoors when the pollen count is reported to be high
- Take a vacation during the height of pollen season to a more pollen-free area
- Avoid mowing the lawn and freshly cut grass
- Machine-dry bedding and clothing instead of hanging it outside to dry
Written by Tai-Chi Kwok, MD, Adult Geriatrics of Wooster
Wooster Community Hospital